News / Health

Tuberculosis 'Time Bomb' Costs Europe Billions Annually

Belarusians queue for X-rays to detect tuberculosis during Belarusian Red Cross screening, Minsk, Jan. 29, 2013.
Belarusians queue for X-rays to detect tuberculosis during Belarusian Red Cross screening, Minsk, Jan. 29, 2013.
Reuters
Europe is facing a multi-billion-euro time bomb of rising costs to control tuberculosis (TB) as drug-resistant forms of the lung disease spread, a pioneering study found.
 
Often thought of as a disease of the past or one restricted to marginalized communities, TB is already inflicting annual direct costs of more than 500 million euros on the region and another 5.3 billion euros in productivity losses.
 
The study, by health economists based in Germany, also suggests the economic burden of TB far outweighs the likely costs of investing in much-needed research to develop more effective medicines and vaccines — something they said governments and the drug industry should do urgently.
 
"We know that new drugs and vaccines are very expensive [to develop], but if you take these costs into consideration, then everything is justified," said Roland Diel, a health economics professor at Germany's University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein in Kiel, who led the study.
 
The emergence of strains of that can't be treated with even the most powerful of drugs has turned TB into one of the world's most pressing health problems.
 
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), TB infected 8.7 million people worldwide in 2011 and killed 1.4 million. As many as two million people may have drug-resistant strains by 2015, the Geneva-based health agency says.
 
Treating even typical TB is a long process. Patients need to take a cocktail of antibiotics for six months and many fail to complete the treatment. That, alongside overuse and misuse of antibiotics, has fuelled the emergence of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) and extensively drug resistant (XDR-TB).
 
For this study, published online in the European Respiratory Journal on Friday and the first of its kind, researchers used a systematic review of literature and institutional websites for the 27 EU member states to summarize data on TB treatment costs in 2011.
 
They split the countries into two groups based on gross domestic product (GDP) per person.
 
For the old EU 15 countries plus Cyprus, Malta and Slovenia, the average direct cost per case of typical TB was 10,282 euros ($13,600), but was more than 57,200 euros for MDR cases and more than 170,700 euros for XDR cases. For the remaining EU states, average costs were 3,427 euros for standard treatable TB and around 24,100 euros for drug-resistant cases.
 
The total treatment cost of all TB cases in 2011 was 536,890,315 euros ($712.26 million).
 
While the number of drug-resistant TB cases in Europe is currently only a tiny fraction of the total of around 70,000 cases per year, Diel said that would swiftly change.
 
"It's a time bomb in terms of drug-resistant cases," he said in a telephone interview. "They are just a small fraction right now, but that will increase... so the costs will also rise."
 
Beyond the direct costs, Diel's team also calculated TB's impact in terms of the monetary value of lost productivity.
 
Using disability-adjusted life years, or DALYs — a measure of disease burden that looks at the number of years lost due to ill-health, disability or early death — they found the total years lost was 103,104 in 2011. In monetary terms, this amounted to more than 5.3 billion euros.
 
Diel said this was the figure that shocked him the most.
 
"People assume that in most parts of Europe, TB doesn't play much of a role in comparison to other diseases. But, in fact, the costs of it are very high," he said. "It's billions, and nobody realized that before."
 
Responding to the findings, Francesco Blasi, President of the European Respiratory Society, said they showed the huge burden of TB on both the economy and on society in Europe.
 
"It is critical that healthcare professionals and policymakers take note," he said in a statement.

You May Like

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs